Reported Sanctions Did Not Materialise, Government at Loggerheads



The controversial rumours  that the Government will bring in legislation allowing Irish Water deduct water bills directly from wages and welfare payments of people who refuse to pay water charges,  failed to materialise this week at the Fine Gael/Labour Government Cabinet meeting, 1st April 2015, Irish Times.  We have been given another fortnight, it seems, until the next Cabinet meeting to see if the media's hyperbole  'stronger compliance measures',  'fast track courts', 'attachment of earnings' or 'new legislation' will in fact come true.

Alan Kelly Minister for Environment

Alan Kelly Minister for Environment

After  Alan Kelly, Minister for the Environment in an interview  on  Morning Ireland  23rd March 2015 said  “we will bring in legislation to deal with people who won't pay their water charges”,  the media frenzy began.  Next day there was speculation that the Government was planning this and that sanction against defaulters.   The number of defaulters is still unknown unless you believe Irish Water or Government figures.  The real number of households registered with Irish Water is anyone's  guess.  Really this number can not be verified unless there is full transparency in Irish Water's facts and figures.  


Spin Doctors and the Media
The media, like birds picking over bones, quickly escalated the threats from Mr Kelly.  Using it's mass media tools,  they informed the public that new penalties were going to be brought in by the Government against people who did not pay their bills.  Before you knew it the country was once again embroiled in controversy,  threats, misinformation and speculation.  A state the country has been in since the formation of  Irish Water Ltd under the Water Services Act which was made law on 20th March 2013.

The said "the Government plans to introduce tough new rules which will allow judges to order employers, pension funds and the Department of Social Protection to take the unpaid charge directly from income in the event of non-payment."
The Media, quite often in relation to the Irish Water issue,  used 'sources' in order to substantiate their claims.  Who in fact these sources were is not given but we can speculate that  the information came from spin doctors within government itself.  However, it was often the case that quotes were direct statements from government or Irish Water spokespersons who gave their views as to what this or that may happen.
After the media's warning of impending sanction, it now turns out that these sanctions were not so immediate after all.  We have once again been put on tenterhooks for another couple of weeks to find out if the spin will be substantiated. The Irish Times   said that "it is likely they will be discussed at the next meeting of ministers in a fortnight's time.



 Buncrana Together could just as easily quote our sources as saying that the Government coalition is at loggerheads over water charges.  Even though there may be grains of truth in articles, it does not necessarily mean  that it is fact or it will happen.  Or if say Irish Water or the Government was reported as saying that the deadline for registration with Irish Water is such and such date, would you believe that?    There can be ulterior motives for spinning a line or two, such as creating doubt and panic in the public's minds thus trying to affect the outcome.  In this case from the amount of statements about the Government and Irish Water being satisfied with the number of people signing up with Irish Water, it is obvious what the motives are.  The Government and Irish Water arenot satisfied at all,   they are worried.

Some Media Showing Light
The Tanaiste Joan Burton,  was quoted in The Irish Examiner  "it would be deeply problematic  to deduct from welfare claimants who are unwilling to pay water charges"

Enda Kenny said in same article  while trying to back up Alan Kelly that  “There is a need for compliance and people to understand there will be equality in regard to compliance and that everybody who can pay should and will pay.”

Although The Irish Times  did not elaborate  they said in this article " the introduction of attachment orders, especially in relation to welfare payments, has not met with universal approval within the Government parties and there have been discussions in recent weeks around these issues.

From statements like these it seems Mr Kelly and some media have jumped the gun.

 BeYourOwnReason  in called it a 'Dangerous precedent' and said  " The Master of the High Court has warned “fast-track” court procedures — under which banks get final money judgements solely on a judge’s view of the credibility of any sworn written defence — may breach the entitlements of defendants under the European Convention on Human Rights (link)

And of course Buncrana Together "  No matter the outcome, after today's statements the government will either be seen as dishonest and vindictive or they will be seen as introducing yet another piece of draconian legislation in response to the popularity of the anti-water charges campaign."

Buncrana Together April 6, 2015

Government And Media Launch Major Propaganda Campaign Against Water Protesters


Yesterday, the Government in cooperation with its many friends in the media, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Irish Water, launched its first major propaganda campaign of 2015 aimed at defeating those who are refusing to pay water charges.


The message was simple: The water is poisoned, the infrastructure is about to collapse any minute with dire consequences for ‘customers’. The only thing that will prevent the greatest catastrophe since the famine is – investment, lots and lots of investment.

One million homes at significant risk from contaminated drinking water screamed the Irish Independent headline. And just in case readers didn’t get the fear message, there’s apicture of two lovely children brushing their teeth, great to get the emotions going.

Other dire warnings included: health risk to babies, e-coli, cryptosporidium, lead poisoning, endless water notices, risk to thousands of jobs.
‘Customers’ were warned that if they wanted a modern water system they would have to pay for it. €500 million per year for ten years – minimum.



John Tierney  Irish Water Director

John Tierney  Irish Water Director

Also in the Independent (partly owned by Denis O’Brien) John Tierney, Managing Director of Irish Water, was afforded an article all of his own in which he made this dire revelation:
There are now people in Ireland who cannot drink their water because it will make them ill.  His solution: Slap a bill for €2.3 billion on ‘customers’ to pay up or risk getting sick.    We want to become an organisation trusted by people to deliver every time they turn on their tap.
What he means is, of course – trusted to deliver a bill every time a ‘customer’ turns on a tap?



Ivan Yates Chris Donaghue Newstalk Breakfast

Ivan Yates Chris Donaghue Newstalk Breakfast

To be fair to Newstalk’s (fully owned by Denis O’Brien) Breakfast presenters, Ivan Yates and Chris Donoghue, they didn’t even bother with balance.
They got stuck in right away – 20,000 on boiled water notices, nearly one million at risk. They interviewed a spokesperson from EPA asking him comfortable, leading questions that were very helpful to Irish Water.
Again we had all the dire warnings that the sky was about to fall in unless Irish Water ‘customers’ stumped up a couple of billion. At the end of the piece, in case ‘customers’ still weren’t on song, Ivan Yates hammered home the message:
There’s no avoiding the fact if we want to retain our water quality for
                                                                 almost  a  million people very significant investment needs to take place.





Sean O'Rourke RTE

Sean O'Rourke RTE

RTE also played its part in the Government’s propaganda campaign.  Here’s part of the written introduction on the Sean O’Rourke website to an interview with Head of Asset Management at Irish Water Jerry Grant.
  In the face of opposition to water charges, the response from government and from Irish Water has remained steady. If we want to ensure a sustainable and clean supply of water into the future, charging for water is the way forward.
In fairness to RTE, this clear and dramatic abandonment of balance in favour of supporting Government policy is courageous. At least listeners now know where the national broadcaster stands on the question of water tax.
On RTE’s Late Debate presenter Cormac O’hEadhra nearly had a heart attack at the sheer horror of what was revealed in the EPA report.


Donegal Now 20th January 2015

Eight parts of Donegal had traces of a potentially harmful substance in their water supplies in 2013, according to the latest report from the Environmental Protection Agency.

It has found that the supplies contain excess levels of “trihalomethanes” which occur when naturally-occurring organic and inorganic materials in the water react with disinfectants put into the supplies, like chlorine and chloramine.
Some people who drink water containing total trihalomethanes in excess of the acceptable limits over many years could experience liver, kidney, or central nervous system problems and an increased risk of cancer.
According to the EPA, “Trihalomethanes, a by-product of the chlorination (disinfection) process, are undesirable in drinking water and their presence should be minimised while not compromising disinfection.”
Donegal Co. Council was notified by the EPA and directed to take action.  The areas concerned were: Letterkenny Public Water Supply,Fintown, Cashelard (Ballyshannon), Ballyshannon, Gortahork/Falcarragh, Greencastle, Rathmullan Public Water Supply, Portnoo/Narin 

Directives to take action were issued in 2011 but by the end of 2013 only Ballyshannon PWS had complied.  But last year the EPA initiated prosecutions in relation to the Letterkenny Public Water Supply.
The comprehensive report, a copy of which has been seen by Donegal Now, also highlights how many private wells are at risk from contamination.  The report also shows that there are 33 areas in Donegal where water supplies require remedial action.

Funny, all this hysteria, because Irish citizens (as opposed to customers) have been aware for decades that the water system is Third World standard, at best.

They know they’re being poisoned, they know political incompetence and corruption is at the root of the problem, they know major investment is required.

They also know, and this is where they depart from the position of the Government and its friends in the media, that this time they are not going to be screwed because of the greed and corruption of politicians.

Role of EPA-Cer-IrishWater-450x300.jpg